The Eagle men earned the right to play in the ACCA National Championship game tonight with an upset win over #1 seed Dallas Christian College. Dallas finished the year ranked 3rd in the NCCAA DII rankings and is the #4 seed in the NCCAA DII tournament to be held next week. Faith moves to 24-6 on the year with the win.
Dallas took an early 7-10 lead in the first three and a half minutes, but Faith was able to string together a 17-2 run over the next four minutes to take a 12 point 24-12 lead. Dallas responded with their own 15-3 lead to pull within 2, 25-27, with 10 left to play in the first half, and from there the game went back and forth. Both teams fought through some foul trouble, and at the end of the half, Dallas took a slim 2 point 42-40 lead into the locker room.
Faith opened the second half with a 15-7 run in the first four minutes to retake the lead by six. Dallas rallied back to tie the game at 61 all with 11 to play in the game, but Faith scored on their next possession and then maintained a 2-4 point lead for the next six minutes. Dallas was finally able to retake the lead at 74-72 with five to play, but Ryan Kupferschmid hit a big three to push Faith back on top. Faith would never trail again, as they got timely baskets from several different men, then went 6/6 from the free throw line to close out the game and earn the win.
After a first half in which the Eagles shot 40%, Faith was able to connect on 55% of their second half shots, including 42% from behind the arc. Faith was able to outrebound Dallas 45-30, including 12 offensive rebounds. The Eaglese were able to overcome a blistering shooting performance from behind the arc by Dallas, who shot 47%, by shooting 42 freethrows and connecting on 28 of them.
The win was truly an amazing team effort for the Eagles, as 3 men finished with double doubles and six men finished in double digits. Josh Bray led all scorers with 28 points. Jon Luke Talton recorded a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds while handing out 6 assists. Ryan Kupferschmid also had a double double as he scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Aaron Leistikow missed a triple double by one assist, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while handing out 9 assists. John Acree scored 10 points for the Eagles, all on free throws as he got the Eagles several key points late in the second half.
The Eagles will face another strong test in the championship in Arlington Baptist. Arlington finished the regular season ranked #9. The game is scheduled to tip at 6:30 PM in the gym of Ozark Christian College.